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071: Tuomas Rounakari: Wisdom Traditions

Tuomas Rounakari, musician and ethnomusicologist, returns to continue our discussion of authenticity, inspiration, and joy. This time we talk about the other side of joy and take a deep dive into the ancient grieving tradition of the lament or cry song. He shares some of the myths of the modern age blocking our connection to ourselves and preventing us from being truly authentic. This discussion is worth listening to, thinking about, and listening to again.

After you listen, let me know your most important takeaway or a-ha moment from this conversation. Email me at ImperfectActionPodcast@gmail.com or tweet to @brocedwards.

Related Episode: 040: Tuomas Rounakari: Aligning With Inspiration


Tuomas Rounakari, Violinist, Composer, Ethnomusicologist Tuomas Rounakari is an internationally acclaimed violinist, composer and an ethnomusicologist from Finland. Currently rocking the world with his fiddle in the phenomenal folk-metal band Korpiklaani with close to a hundred live shows per year globally. Tuomas Rounakari is often referred as a shaman violinist after his solo performance entitled Shamanviolin that is still going strong.

The Shamanviolin performance was born in reaction to his studies on archived Siberian shamanic songs. These songs had an immense affect to his personality. Through studying these songs he found both an explanation and a conscious way back to the trance state experiences in his early childhood. (You can read the story in his own words here)

Tuomas Rounakari is a founding member and a music director of a theatre group Ruska Ensemble, with an agenda to promote collaboration between first nations across the arctic areas. Ruska Ensemble has collaborated with Finnish National Theatre (Helsinki), Ob-Ugrian National Theatre (Khanty-Mansijsk), The Sámi National Theatre Beaivvaś (Koutakeino) and the National Theatre of Greenland (Nuuk).

Rounakari has also done field work among the Khanty people in Siberia as an ethnomusiclogist. One outcome of these fieldtrips is a Bear Feast performance that combines ritual, music, theatre and dance in a four-hour event. Rounakari’s version of the Bear Feast evokes the mythical bear living inside of us today. The performance is based on shared mythology between the Finns, Khanty, Mansy and Sámi people combining ancient poetry and modern poems from Jüri Wella and Scott. M. Nomaday.

One of his most recent projects is a spin off band from the Bear Feast performance entitled Ohtoni with Pekko Käppi, Antti Paalanen and Karoliina Kantelinen.

A key to understanding Tuomas Rounakari’s artistic world is an emphasis on dialogue in multiple levels. Dialogue between cultures, dialogue between ancient, present and future, dialogue with mythical entities and dialogue between man and nature. This emphasize in dialogue is both respecting ancient traditions and creating something new and unique. Traditions remain vital when they are both preserved and challenged at the same time. This approach has led Rounakari to revitalize several traditions from near extinction.

Over the course of twenty years, Tuomas Rounakari has taught over a thousand people to create personal lament songs using the principles of ancient Carelian laments, that became nearly extinct after the Second World War. In these laments, also known as the songs of rites of passage, Rounakari found a musical tool that resembled Eurasian shamanic songs but belongs to his own Finnish-Carelian heritage. Together with Pirkko Fihlman, Rounakari created a method of teaching laments that practically revitalized the genre. Today he is consulting the lament revival starting in Ireland with the first seminar and workshop on keening already held at the University College of Cork, Ireland in 2017.

Presently, Rounakari is finishing his PhD in the artistic research program at Sibelius-Academy, Finland, focusing on the techniques of dialogue with mythical entities in the music of arctic indigenous and Finno-Ugric peoples. Connect with Tuomas:

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Photo credit: Fox & Florals Media foxnflorals.com

Theme music: Just a Little by Shadow of Whales.

Big thanks for letting me use the song.

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